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26/10/2021

Rain fails to dampen spirits as centenary of Clonfin Ambush commemorated

Clonfin Commemoration

A parade led by a Defence Forces Colour Party, followed by the Peter Keenan Branch of the ONE and Longford Pipe Band

Longford County Council, in partnership with the Clonfin Commemoration Committee marked the centenary of the ambush at Clonfin at the weekend, with two memorable events at the site between Ballinalee and Granard.

On Saturday, Sr Maeve Brady RSM, a daughter of Tom Brady, one of the North Longford Flying Column members, gave an inspiring talk about the ambush at the Clonfin memorial site.

Her account was interspersed with music and song, prayer and a reflection. She also had photographs and other items from the per attendees to view.

Clonfin Ambush: North Longford Flying Column’s finest hour as the elite British forces surrender to Seán Mac Eoin

Seán Ó Súilleabháin, renowned local author and historian, has been researching Longford’s part in the War of Independence for the past four years, for a book which he hopes to publish later this year. 2020 & 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of some key events in the War of Independence. Indeed, 1920 and 1921 were momentous years in Longford’s history and the deeds of Seán Mac Eoin and his Flying Column were legendary. We are delighted that Seán Ó Súilleabháin is sharing some of his research with Longford Leader readers as he looks back on that era, and this week he looks at the Clonfin Ambush of February 2, 1921, when the elite British forces surrendered to Seán Mac Eoin. The author would welcome any feedback or comments at sosuilleabhain9@gmail.com

On Sunday afternoon, an official ceremony was held at the site for the families of the twenty-one members of the North Longford Flying Column.

Unfortunately, continuing restrictions on gatherings, due to Covid-19, meant that it could not be open to all, as in previous years.

Relatives travelled from as far away as Cork, Wicklow and Wexford to attend the event and remember and reflect on the bravery of their ancestors.

Official Ceremony

The event began with a parade from the Granard side of the site, which was led by a Defence Forces Colour Party, followed by the Peter Keenan Branch of the ONE and Longford Pipe Band.

In recognition of this centenary year, sons and daughters and other close relatives of the Flying Column members were involved, along with the Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council Cllr Peggy Nolan, local Oireachtas representatives and elected members of Longford County Council.

Sheila Reilly, Head of Editorial Development with the Irish Examiner, was MC at the ceremony, which had the elements that are part of the annual commemoration.

The Band of 2nd Brigade of the Defence Forces, based in Custume Barracks, Athlone, provided the music, Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, Cllr Peggy Nolan, opened proceedings and anumber of relatives also participated in the ceremony.

Guest Speaker

The guest speaker was leading historian on the Revolutionary period Professor Marie Coleman of Queen’s University Belfast who is the author of the book County Longford and the Irish Revolution 1910-1923.

In her address, she spoke of the wider significance of the ambush in the War of Independence. She also spoke about the Auxiliaries and gave some interesting insights into their lives and backgrounds.

Sr Maeve Brady RSM wrote a very evocative poem about the event naming all the twenty-one local men who took part, and this poem was read by Eileen Boyle, a local secondary school student.

The event concluded with an ecumenical prayer service, led by Fr Tom Murray, Parish Priest of Clonbroney, and Rev Christiaan Snell, Minister-in-Charge of the Edgeworthstown group of parishes. They remembered the flying column members and the four Auxiliaries who lost their lives as a result of the ambush.

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